1. Food Energy
Plants have specific organs in their cells that convert sunlight to food energy through a process known as photosynthesis. A plant will capture the suns rays in a chloroplast through a chemical reaction and this conversion gives plants the ability to supply calories to all life. It is by plants that cows are fed and then the humans that feed on the cows. In this way, sunlight provides the source of food for all life on earth.
2. Vitamin D
One of the amazing things sunlight provides for us is Vitamin D. It is absorbed through the skin and converted to a state that the body can use. It usually only requires about thirty minutes of sunlight a day to acquire a minimum dose. Vitamin D is important for the creation and maintenance of bones. It is involved in the use of calcium in the body and performs many other important jobs.
There have been studies that show that depression occurs in people during the change of seasons. As winter approaches and the earth tilts away from the sun, the days become shorter. This means less sunlight is available for our use. Many people find themselves depressed at this time of year, and the cause has been linked to the lack of sunlight. Indeed, people who sit under lamps that recreate the light spectrum of the sun have reported feeling happier and more energized. Sunlight also stimulates the pineal gland deep in the brain. This gland regulates our sleep/ wake cycles and triggers our bodies to activity or restful sleep.
Life on this planet would not be possible without the warmth that the sun provides. Mercury and Venus have temperatures much hotter than most earth organisms could handle. If any water existed on these planets, it would be quickly burned off as steam. Yet even Mars which is the next furthest than earth from the sun is so cold that it is also uninhabitable. If water would exist on Mars and planets further out, they would be rocks of solid ice. In fact, some of the planets are ice. Our moon gets some of the rays of the sun, but is still so much colder than what we have here. A combination of the radiant light of the sun creating direct warmth and the atmosphere retaining and distributing that heat allows plant and animal life to thrive on this planet.
It takes the light of the sun eight minutes to reach us, and still it is only a fraction of the powerful heat generated by our star. Yes, it is the obvious perk of having a sun, but we would have nothing if there was no light. We use it to plant our crops, find shelter from the predators of the night, and to pursue the things we enjoy most. Without the light of the sun, there would not be any life on earth. There would be no star to orbit and no heat to sustain us. In short, without the life giving light of the sun, we would be a species lost. In fact, we would not even exist.
If it were not for the sun evaporating the water off of bodies of water, we would not have rain or snow as we know it. The water that is turned to moist air rises into the atmosphere where it is affected by temperature to fall as the precipitation the temperature dictates. Without the sun, there would be droughts and most of the world would be a barren desert.
Certainly the sun can also cause harm. It is the most common source of sun cancer and has been known to prematurely age our skin. Yet these are a small price to pay for the enormous benefits sunlight provides. The next time you are outside pull up your sleeves to catch some Vitamin D, hug a plant, and look around at the illuminated world created by our multifunctional sun.
The sun is such a constant, reliable sight that few of us rarely acknowledge its existence. Sure, there are the sunbathers that like to bask in the rays, but many go to a tanning booth instead. Actually, the sun is the one of the primary reasons that life exists on earth. It has hidden benefits that prove it is a lot more than a gigantic lamp that lights your daily activities. It is a living, breathing organism.